A posthumous nod for trailblazer in the art world goes to Sister Corita Kent (1918-1896) of Fort Dodge, Iowa, a former Roman Catholic nun who developed an interest in art while being in the order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary: she became an art teacher and headed the art department there while developing her style of socially-focused, introspective art. While her early work focused on religious imagery, it took on a more popular focus displaying advertising, marketing and slogans, bible verses and literature. With the upswell of social movements in the 60’s including civil rights and the Viet Nam war, Sister Corita’s work began to shift toward political change, poverty, racism and social injustice.
In 1968, Sister Corita, left the order and moved to Boston, where she had battles with cancer and dedicated her time and service to social causes until her death in the late 80s. Her body of work includes 800 serigraph editions, many watercolors as well as public and private commissions.
Not only did Sister Corita have her art exhibited at major showings in New York, she also had a center named in her honor in Los Angeles named the Sister Corita Kent Art Center, formerly at 5518 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, CA., working there between 1960-1968. This building has been designated a historical landmark by the City Council of Los Angeles.
Sister Corita also studied for a Master’s degree at the University of Southern California and had her work displayed at major art galleries such Cal Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA, to name a few.
Why we love her: at a time when extremely conservative societal mores dictated the course of public discussion and social policy in the United States, Sister Corita was not afraid to question the status quo and use her platform to offer an alternative viewpoint to elevate and inform larger society-and all points between-about the pervasive and less-widely acknowleged social justice issues of the time. To learn more about Sister Corita Kent, please see Sister Corita Kent, the Pop Art Nun Who Combined Warhol With Social Justice, Is Getting Her Own Dedicated Art Center in LA (artnet.com). Photo © Corita.org